01 December 2010

Book Review: Queer Questions Straight Talk

Title: Queer Questions Straight Talk
Author: Abby Dees
Publisher: St. Lynn's Press
Release Date: 1 May 2010
Date Finished: 2 November 2010

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

Challenges: 100+ Reading, Hogwarts Reading Challenge, Reading ResolutionsGLBT Challenge

The Short and Sweet of It
This short book includes 108 Questions to spark conversation with a friend or family member who has come out.

A Bit of a Ramble
Dees wrote this book to help aid in communication between homosexuals and their families and friends. With a bit of advice, a bit of humor, and a lot of interesting, Queer Questions Straight Talk can probably really help get a conversation going. To read it just to read it, however, is not quite as satisfying. I wanted to hear more answers instead of primarily reading a list of questions.

This is not to say I didn't enjoy the book however. Certain portions were extremely intriguing. For example, in chapter 3 which focuses on Stereotypes, Dees writes:
Even the most polite and thoughtful among us stereotype people. It's a natural instinct to help us identify folks and know where to begin the conversation. If I'm at a party and want to break the ice with a man who has a tattoo on his neck and a shark's tooth through his septum, I probably won't ask him if he scrapbooks. Likewise, I won't ask the 90-year-old woman in line at the post office if that's her chopper blocking my car outside. This is stereotyping - and quite possibly, I would be wrong in both cases. If I am, the consequences are not too great: a little embarrassment, and maybe an apology to the senior division of my local Hell's Angels chapter.

I found this paragraph hilarious and immediately realized I could use it for classes. I am often trying to explain stereotyping as a morally neutral activity, a natural part of being human, instead of the horribly negative, hell-worthy offense it is made out to be. Stereotypes are how we create meaning. I tell my students that only when a person locks on to the stereotype, when he/she refuses to acknowledge the possibility the stereotype is wrong, that is the time we have a problem.

The next paragraph stresses the difference when it is a minority group being stereotyped. While I agree that "stereotyping dehumanizes people, reducing them to caricatures", I do not agree that it only does this for minorities. Here's where I take an unpopular stance: I think that assuming all middle class white men are conservative is just as bad as assuming all teenage black men are drug dealers or that all gay men like fashion. I do not agree that stereotypes of the "privileged" are any less dangerous or offensive than stereotypes of minority groups. That sort of attitude holds us back in my opinion. We all start with the stereotype, but we can not cling to it, promote it, or negatively use it regardless of who is being stereotyped. I hope that made sense...

While the stereotyping paragraph tickled my funny bone, this next part had me laughing out loud by myself in my basement. In the same chapter on stereotyping, Dees lists the following question set:
Are lesbians angry at men? Are gay men angry at women? Are bi people angry at anyone?

I seriously could not stop laughing because of that last question. I had this whole image of the entire bisexual population just loving everyone in this whole hippie, arms waving, giant smiles, big hugs kind of love fest. I love you and you and you and you and you....Sorry, mild distraction here. It just really had me going.

On a side note to a side note, I think the idea funny that lesbians are angry at men. Why are lesbians angry at men? I'll tell you who's angry with men. Straight women. We're the ones who have to put up with them. : D

Back to serious. If you have someone with whom you should be having this sort of conversation, I highly recommend picking up this book. If not, I'd say take it if you have the chance, but there's no real need to seek it out.

If you are looking for answers to questions of the GLBT variety, head over to Bonjour Cass and ask the magnificent Cass to answer them for you!

This Book Around the Web
If I've missed your review, let me know!

The Book Lady's Blog; The Zen Leaf;

Side Note: Be sure to go nominate books for the GLBTQ Indie Lit Awards


  1. It's so true about the stereotypes. The other day I was in line at the store (forever) with a family of four - the parents were TOTALLY covered with tattoos and piercings, and they had 2 little kids. The kids were dressed as cute as they could be, with intellectually stimulating gadgets to occupy them, and the parents were solicitous and supportive, and NOBODY around in line could stop gaping!!!

  2. I am not sure if this is the book for me, but I do think the passages that you pointed out were very amusing. I do think that stereotypes exist for a reason, but one should not get locked into them and refuse to see reason when it comes to labeling people. Thanks for the great review of this book.

  3. I agree with everything you said here. It was really hard to review the book, because it's not really like a normal book! I did wish there was some discussion on answers too, though I guess that would be counterproductive to the purpose.

    I'm with you 100% on the stereotype thing.

  4. I don't know where the myth comes from that lesbians are angry at men. Is is because men can't fathom the fact that there are women in the world who just aren't attracted to them? You're right. It's straight women who have issues with men.

  5. Oh, man, but you can review the heck out of any book!

    Why don't you have a column in the WSJ for crissakes!

    I mean, look at you:

    the awesome rating scale.

    the humor

    the intelligence

    the ability to assess impartially

    Really, why do you not write for the WSJ??????

    Someone? Anyone? Bueller?

  6. LOL LOL LOL It's true. I'm straight and very angry at men at the moment! How did you know! lol. I must read this book already! I was hoping someone would nominate it to give me an excuse but instead I'll just have to, you know, pick it up.

    Also, COMPLETELY agree re the stereotypes.

  7. Jill - The funny thing is that even those with little, itty bitty tattoos are looked at the same way.

    Heather - Stereotypes are confounding to me, such a strange blend of the true and untrue.

    Amanda - I was really hoping for some answers as well. It would be nice to read some honest answers to these questions.

    Stephanie - Exactly! Reading those questions really gave me a chuckle.

    My Lovely Lady Empress - You seriously rock my world. I should put that comment on my bathroom mirror for morning smiles.

    Amy - Heehee! Ah, the joys of not being a lesbian. Silly men. See and I could have sworn I got the idea to read it from your blog!!!!

  8. *waves* Did you see my post about my new feature, where I answer questions about GLBTQ topics?? http://bonjourcass.com/2010/11/27/help-me-start-a-new-feature/

    I wilth provide answers!

    Also I must say that as a gay person this book kind of weirds me out. If it's supposed to be a resource for straight family and friends...why are there so many sex questions? You know what I don't want to talk about with my Grandma? Sex. *shudder*

  9. Totally with you on the stereotype thing! Can I carry you around in my pocket, please? You say such brilliant things :)

    "I think the idea funny that lesbians are angry at men. Why are lesbians angry at men? I'll tell you who's angry with men. Straight women." No joke! :)

  10. Okay, that pocket thing didn't sound stalkerish, did it?? Because I really didn't mean it to sound that way!

  11. Intriguing post about an intriguing book. I think your point about stereotyping being universal is an important one. It's as if our brains can't help it--we categorize in order to make sense of everything that's coming at us. It's only when we hold fast to our categorizing assumptions that it becomes a problem.

  12. Amy - :)

    Cass - Too funny! I didn't even think of that, but I'm going to put your link in the review post. Are you getting any questions yet?

    Emily - Lol! Sure you can carry me around in your pocket, but you should be warned that any cleverness I may possess is sporadic at best. :)

    Vicky - Exactly. We need stereotypes to make sense of an extremely chaotic world; we just also need the ability to adjust our worldview.

  13. Emily - Lol! Sure you can carry me around in your pocket, but you should be warned that any cleverness I may possess is sporadic at best. :)

  14. Heather - Stereotypes are confounding to me, such a strange blend of the true and untrue.


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